Photo by Edward F. Palm)

About Me

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Forest, Virginia, United States
A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Column for October 18, 2015

ED PALM | Wife and last name both alive and well

It’s Sunday and time once again for these thoughts that wander through Kitsap County.
Uppermost in my mind this week is an email I received from a long-lost classmate back in Delaware. We’re both looking forward to reuniting at our 50th high school reunion at the end of the month, and he wanted me to know how sorry he was to learn of the death of my wife.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of my wife’s death are greatly exaggerated. I immediately wrote back, affirming that Mrs. Palm is alive and well and likely to outlive me. As it turned out, on October 4, the News Journal, Delaware’s paper of record, had run an obituary for a Barbara Berry-Palm — formerly of Newark, Delaware — who was survived by her husband, Edward Palm.
Since we hadn’t stayed in touch over the years, I can see how my classmate would have assumed that I was the widower mentioned in that obituary, especially since “Palm” is not a common name in America. It’s the German version of “Palmer,” which is much more common than “Palm.”

In 2004, I chanced to pass through Hamburg — from whence my father’s grandfather had come — and looked for “Palm” in the Hamburg phone directory. There were two pages of them. But not so in any of our major cities in America.

And what a difference one little syllable can make. Over the years, in phoning various agencies and companies, I’ve learned to pronounce my surname name loudly and distinctly and even to spell it. Otherwise, the customer service representative is likely to hear “Tom,” or “Pam,” or “Baum.”
Moreover, I’ve also had occasion to wonder if someone highly placed in television writing or production has something against me. In one episode of the long-running police drama “NYPD Blue,” two of the detectives were discussing a particularly loathsome petty criminal named “Eddie Palm.” The writers could at least have made me a criminal mastermind.

As it just so happens, my wife and I are expecting our first grandson on or about the 24th of the month. We’re especially happy about that. Otherwise, our line of Palms would have ended with our one son Daniel. I’ve been suggesting some first names: Ethelred, Thurston, Throckmorton, Smedley, Poindexter. But so far our daughter-in-law doesn’t seem to be receptive.

In any event, as soon as our grandson is old enough, I’ll urge him to say it loud and say it proud when asked for his last name.

But wait! There’s more, as they say in infomercials. Two more semi-serious topics this week, and all for the price of one:

After 45 years, you’d think I would know all there is to know about Mrs. Palm. But a piece of mail she received from a veterans’ organization last year suggests she is indeed a woman of mystery. Who knew that in addition to being a wife, a mother and a registered dietitian, she was also a major general? That’s the way the letter was addressed — to “MajGen Andrea Palm.”

While still in high school, she rose to the rank of cadet major in the Civil Air Patrol, but she never served in any branch of our regular or reserve armed forces. Still, maybe Freud was right in maintaining there are no accidents. In terms of character, judgment, and temperament, I could credit Mrs. Palm with being “the very model of a modern major general.”

Would that I could put her in command of public education here in Washington, if not nationally.
Last Saturday, one of the local TV stations reported on an initiative undertaken by some precocious well-meaning junior high students. These youngsters have been lobbying Seattle’s City Council to require placing so-called “warming labels” on gas pumps. These labels would remind motorists that “burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming.” According to that news report, all but one of the council members is in favor of the plan.

I have no problem with the message per se. I believe that automobile emissions contribute to global warming. But what, if anything, we can do about it remains a difficult scientific, social, and economic problem. We should not be enlisting children in such crusades.

The adults encouraging these young people may think they’re molding them into concerned, responsible citizens, but they’re much more likely to be turning out self-righteous zealots and ideologues.

The better course would be to encourage these children to question all received truths, whether proffered by the right or the left. That’s the essence of liberal education.

Much of what passes for education today, unfortunately, is actually indoctrination. We need to be teaching our young people how to think, not what to think. We also need to instill in them the wisdom to understand that “a little knowledge” can be “a dangerous thing.”

Contact Ed Palm at efpalm@centurylink.net.

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